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Skilling through Gamification: Analytical Essay on Importance of Gamification in Learning and Development

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Abstract

Talent crisis is one of the major challenges being faced by many countries today. India, though considered as youngest nation of the globe, is grappling with unique paradox. Huge global employment opportunities and unemployment/underemployment is co-existing today in India. Across all industry verticals skill gaps are becoming very evident. All of a sudden Skills development has become one of the priority areas of government today. Today, Vocational Educational & Training (VET) is getting its due recognition on par with traditional education.

Skilling sector has witnessed many disruptions off late. Efforts are being made to make learning student-centric. Today’s millennial do not prefer traditional teaching pedagogy. Gamification is considered to be one of the best tools to impart necessary knowledge and skills to students today. Because of its entertainment value, gamification motivates and increases the commitment of students towards learning. Several studies have shown gamification enhances students’ transversal skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, analytical skills, self-management and communication skills etc. which will consequently lead to higher chances of these students finding a job.

In this paper a sincere attempt is made to highlight the importance of gamification in learning & development. The paper suggests how government and other educators can adopt gamification in skilling endeavors. It also throws some light on challenges in embracing gamification for skilling and way forward for successful skilling.

Key Words: Skilling, Gamification, Learning and Development, Vocational Education & Training, Employability.

1.0 Introduction

With the advancements in Information and communication technology, the way we perceive life has dramatically changed. Right from entertainment to learning, literally everything and anything can be reached just with a click of a button. In this era of complete digitization, even the teenagers are referred as screen-agers. Today’s young generation hugely depends upon the digital platforms right from decision making to problem solving. This scenario raises questions, in making this young workforce industry- ready with required skillsets. The learning environment, education system and dynamic interaction between educators and learners become very crucial in building the Gen X and Y workforce. The traditional teaching methodologies are losing its sheen and the present students are more inclined towards experiential learning. Gamification is one such tool which has the power to sustain the learner’s interest and also helps in building capabilities.

2.0 Gamification defined:

Gamification is defined as the application of game principles to a non-game situation to promote desired behaviors and to acquire new skills. The main objective of gamification is to motivate and develop the interest for learning among individuals, by using certain rewarding motivators like points, badges and leaderboards. The process also focuses to strengthen the desired behaviors and to weaken the undesired behaviors of young adults. As the student undergoes an experiential learning, it helps the educators to make the learners get engaged and promote the whole experience of learning through fun (Kai erenli , 2013).

Differences between Gamification, Games and Game Based Learning (GBL)

Though, the terms, games and gamification are used interchangeably in general, there is a distinct difference between these two terms. A game is an activity, which involves knowledge, skill or chance and fixed rules to follow to win an opponent. On the other hand, Gamification commonly employs some game design elements and makes it more interactive, to improve user engagement. The ultimate goal of a game is to entertain user, while that of gamification is to change the behavior of the users.

In modern-day education scenario, gamification has become one of the most effective pedagogies used to develop the interests of the young adults in the learning process. With the timely intervention of gaming tools such as points, badges, score boards, it naturally boosts the motivation of the students and makes them more competitive and stay connected with lessons.

In contrast to games and gamification, in game based learning we achieve educational targets by involving or participating in games. Game based learning is intended to teach any concept using game. The students get connected easily not just because of fun, but the immediate feedbacks, score boards, level points creates a sense of achievement. As a result of this, the skills acquired are deeply rooted and this becomes a success factor in the learning process.

3.0 Elements of game-based learning

Traditionally speaking, gamification is defined as the application of game related elements in non- game contexts. The main objective of gamification is to enhance the intrinsic motivation of the students and make them acquire new skills. With the benefits of the same, it is widely used in educational space, to make the learning processes more effective (Dr. Antonio Pérez-Manzano and Javier Almela-Baeza , 2018). Many scholars have thrown light on the different aspects of Gamification. The essential principles to be considered while designing Digital Game- Based Learning (DGBL) are:

  • Intrinsic motivation plays a dominant role in gamification, as it enables an individual to participate more willingly, thus making it more effective.
  • Learning through intensive enjoyment and thus making the participant to get into the flow of: the doable task, with concentration, clarity in objectives, immediate feedback, easy involvement, sufficient control, and absence of one’s consciousness and loss of sense of time.
  • Learning processes should be based on specific practices rather than abstract notions of formal learning, making it more authentic.
  • Playing games encourages autonomy in making the players think and explore their interests.
  • Gamification provides an experiential learning to the players and the designed education program is enhanced by using points, levels, badges, classification tables, prizes and rewards, progress bars, plots etc.,
  • The success of DGBL product is associated with immediate feedback. The greater the intensity and immediacy of the feedback, the greater will be the involvement of the students.

4.0 The reasons to use Gamification in learning

Though the whole process of Gamification, looks more appealing and successful, the technicalities are quite complex. Gamification allows the students to learn through fun, gets involved and stay motivated with timely feedback and a sense of accomplishment. But, one should know how to comprehend and analyze the feedbacks and pointers and use it effectively further. However, one should have clarity in the context in which the games are being used, how, why, when to use. The concepts logically crafted through games will definitely enhance the effectiveness of the leaning program and go a long way in creating new opportunities. Many studies are substantiating the strong reasons to use gamification in learning. Few of them are listed below:

  • Boring concepts may be presented in an interesting and challenging manner
  • Learning through games is always fun
  • High rate of student engagement
  • Helps to understand concepts better through application
  • Immediate feedbacks and scores motivates the students and thereby increases participation
  • Students learn how to comprehend, analyze and resolve the problems and thereby apply the same
  • Concepts thus learnt will be deeply rooted

5.0 Gamification as a teaching strategy

Talent crisis is one of the major challenges being faced by many countries today. India, though considered as youngest nation of the globe, is grappling with unique paradox. Huge global employment opportunities and unemployment/underemployment is co-existing today in India. Across all industry verticals, skill gaps are becoming very evident.

All of a sudden Skills development has become one of the priority areas of government today. Today, Vocational Educational & Training (VET) is getting its due recognition on par with traditional education.

Skilling sector has witnessed many disruptions off late. Efforts are being made to make learning student centric. Today’s millennial do not prefer traditional teaching pedagogy. Gamification is considered to be one of the best tools to impart necessary knowledge and skills to students today. Because of its entertainment value, gamification motivates and increases the commitment of students towards learning. Several studies have shown gamification enhances students’ transversal skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, analytical skills, self-management and communication skills etc. which will consequently lead to higher chances of these students finding a job (Kyle Felker, 2014).

6.0 How do we apply gamification for our specific courses?

Typically, a teacher in a class introduces theoretical concepts and supplements it with few specific examples. Individual assignment is given at the end of each class. Based on the results of assignment, profiling of each individual is done. Subsequently, based on the profiles, groups are formed. During this group formation it is ensured skills of group members are complementary. Thereafter, groups are given with real time cases to solve and present. Intergroup performances are assessed. The entire exercise reflects a game.

Thus we build experience by applying gamification scheme on our courses. How gamification mechanics are blend with the classical education scheme are enunciated below through corresponding parallel elements.

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  • a) Story lines replace domains and sub-domains: how students make choices along the path lead to their profiling in terms of interest and skills
  • b) Characters replace actors: Assignment or in gaming terms, the quest, is given by teachers. According to the storyline students or players solve the quest. During this they collaborate with other players and assume the role based on their skillsets. The work dynamics are managed internally with mutual respect and responsibility. Along the process external observers may intervene, with few suggestions or information.
  • c) Quests replaces themes: cumulative individual progress and group based assignments according to skill sets.
  • d) Completed levels replace evaluation: up skilling on a continuous path.

7.0 Issues to consider while designing a successful game

Every game is distinct and has its own challenges. There are few pain points which hold true for the design of any game (Kyle Felker, 2014).

  • Define Your Objectives

Without concrete learning goals the educational gaming experiences has no value. Two important questions we should ask ourselves are (i) at the end of each game what should the players be able to know and (ii) how we can assess this learning. A metric to measure the outcomes of games is very important. Else, we can conclude whether the game has been successful.

  • Be Patient, Be Iterative

As gamification is a new development, the game designer should keep trying all best practices for better results. Many iterations will finally help designer to get it right. Meeting of the goal is important than getting instant gratification.

  • Involve Others

In the commercial sector game design is a team affair which demands diverse skill sets. Hence, finding a diverse team and designing a game is very crucial.

  • Identify Player Motivation

While designing game we need to strike a balance between our educational objectives and motivation of the players.

  • Marketing

Once the game is ready letting people know about the game is very important. Adequate time and resources must be set aside for promoting the game.

8.0 Way forward: adopting gamification strategically for skill development

First, it is very important for us to have clarity about how a game technology impacts skilling far beyond gamified apps and engagement. For rapid skill acquisition virtual game technology may be effective across different verticals like sales training, clinical training, patient coaching, customer service etc. But the point here is we must be able to move beyond gamification after certain stage.

The use of game technology depends on learning objectives. If acquiring knowledge is our learning objective, then we may embrace various creative solutions in the elearning space. Gamification just for engagement does not help. The engagement does help in recalling of facts or ideas, but do not go beyond. Through game technology people must be empowered so that they apply knowledge in realistic situations, thereby help them to take better decisions. When learners apply knowledge effectively in practical situations they achieve optimal performance, driving the skill acquisition process.

If we wish to train someone the application of new decision-making skill, we would first ensure they have required background knowledge and then support them practice the skill, putting them in real time situation, and mentor them in terms of recognizing the expert mental models we use to make those decisions. Subsequently, we provide different situations and continue the training process until the individual acquires sufficient competence.

It is very well know fact that the entire skill acquisition in deeply rooted in cognitive science. The learning methodologies here are quite practical and intuitive. Practices like experiential learning, cognitive apprenticeship etc may be applied effectively. However, this process works well with one-on-one training, which in fact is the ideal way of learning. Practicing in a mentor guided environment will helps us not to waste learning hours by trial and error and also in future we do not make costly mistakes in real-life situations.

Moving forward, one of the critical agenda is, how do we transform what works well in skill development setting into scalable, digital solutions? The biggest challenge is scaling the approaches used in a real life setting. One of the reasons for this is the expertise required for scaling is scattered across country or the world. If the digital solution emulates the real life learning experience, then we consider it as effective.

Developing and implementing digital cognitive science principle and integrating it with technology are very important. Game technology is suited to accomplish this task.

Now the next challenge is to build learning environment with game technology. Game engines are designed typically for entertainment, not learning. By including game mechanics through deliberate integration of cognitive learning methodologies in the game engine, we can reinforce skill acquisition. Here, expansion of physical environment is not the objective.. Instead, for most organizations, there is a need to deep dive the learner in realistic situations with virtual characters, so that they learn to make optimal decisions. The designers in fact apply this skill acquisition process to many verticals which has been mentioned above. Using game technology, the designer can transform attributes that fosters skill acquisition in live skilling into a virtual experience. There are three dimensions of skill acquisition in which game technology excels. These three dimensions include (i) realistic situations (ii) feedback and expert coaching and (iii) expert mental models

Finally, what is required is to align game technology with our goals. Gamification can provide the sizzle if our goal is to add more engagement to our elearning for knowledge acquisition. However, if our emphasis is skill acquisition to enhance performance, then we are required to integrate cognitive science learning methodologies with game technology. Virtual environments do help in scaling the skilling endeavours. Better and realistic the virtual experience, better the transfer of training to real-world performance.

9.0 Conclusion

It is strongly believed that in the current education system, traditional methods of teaching and learning are not effective and unexciting to the students. The gen y and z students have different learning styles in this highly digital era. Both in terms of information processing and comprehension, today’s generation are different in comparison with earlier generations. Today, most of the teachers and educators report that, present day students are usually demotivated and are less engaged in the learning process. It has become imperative to educational systems to incorporate appropriate activities, which will support students’ learning process.

In this scenario, educators are slowly adopting gamification as a tool to impart required skill sets to trainees / students. Gamification will not only help in meaningful engagement with students, but if cognitive science learning dimension is integrated with gaming technology, gamification becomes the most powerful tool for skilling.

For successful adoption of gamification in skilling, we need to first transform the real time setting into digital solutions. Further by building learning environment with gaming technology and aligning this technology with our overall goal we realize effective skilling.

References

  1. Collin Wolf, Samuel Bott, Inmaculada Hernandez. (2018). Teaching about the health care industry through gamification. American journal of pharmaceutical education. 82 (4), p305-307.
  2. Dr. Antonio Pérez-Manzano and Javier Almela-Baeza. (2018). Gamification and transmedia for scientific promotion and for encouraging scientific careers in adolescents. Media education research journal. 55 (5), p92-103.
  3. Daniah Alabbasi. (2017). Exploring graduate students’ perspectives towards using gamification techniques in online learning. Turkish online journal of distance education. 18 (3), p180-196.
  4. Dr. Mehmet Can Şahin and Nihan Arslan Namli. (2016). Gamification and effects on students’ science lesson achievement. International journal on new trends in education and their implications. 7 (1), p41-47.
  5. Eser Çeker and Fezile Özdamli. (2017). What “gamification” is and what it’s not. European journal of contemporary education. 6 (2), p221-228.
  6. John Laubersheimer, Dorothy Ryan and John Champaign. (2016). Infoskills2go:using badges and gamification to teach information literacy skills and concepts to college-bound high school students. Journal of library administration. 56 (1), p 924-938
  7. Junar A. Landicho, Anghela Perpetua A. Dela Cerna, Jeric James G. Marapao, Gerwin P. Balhin, Rachelle M. (2017). Hortari: a gamification application for engaged teaching and learning in higher education. Journal of e-learning and knowledge society. 13 (1), p181-187.
  8. Julia Gressick and Joel B. Langston. (2017). The guilded classroom: using gamification to engage and motivate undergraduates. Journal of the scholarship of teaching and learning. 17 (3), p109-123.
  9. Kyle Felker. (2014). Gamification in libraries: the state of the art. Accidental technologist. 54 (2), p19-23
  10. Kai erenli. (2013). The impact of gamification recommending education scenarios. Ijet. 8 (1), p15-21.
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  13. Oswald Devisch, Alenka Poplin, and Simona Sofronie. (2016). The gamification of civic participation: two experiments in improving the skills of citizens to reflect collectively on spatial issues. Journal of urban technology. 23 (2), p81-102.
  14. Ramón Cózar-Gutiérrez and José Manuel Sáez-López. (2016). Game-based learning and gamification in initial teacher training in the social sciences: an experiment with minecraftedu. International journal of educational technology in higher education. 13 (2), p1-11.

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Skilling through Gamification: Analytical Essay on Importance of Gamification in Learning and Development. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/skilling-through-gamification-analytical-essay-on-importance-of-gamification-in-learning-and-development/
“Skilling through Gamification: Analytical Essay on Importance of Gamification in Learning and Development.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/skilling-through-gamification-analytical-essay-on-importance-of-gamification-in-learning-and-development/
Skilling through Gamification: Analytical Essay on Importance of Gamification in Learning and Development. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/skilling-through-gamification-analytical-essay-on-importance-of-gamification-in-learning-and-development/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Skilling through Gamification: Analytical Essay on Importance of Gamification in Learning and Development [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/skilling-through-gamification-analytical-essay-on-importance-of-gamification-in-learning-and-development/
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